Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Jobs Dara Calleary has expressed concern that the latest Jobs Action Plan is more about spin than delivery.
Deputy Calleary has raised concerns that Government policy is leading to a two-tier recovery in this country, with unemployment in the Midlands, South East, West and border region all significantly higher than in Dublin. Alarmingly, the unemployment rate in the South East is almost 4% higher than the national rate.
“Once again this Jobs Action Plan is long on rhetoric and short on detail. Unfortunately our experience to date is that this process has been more about self-praise than real job creation. It’s a clever PR campaign, with the Government focussed on praising itself for ‘achieving’ simple everyday tasks and taking credit for a recovery that is largely not of its own making,” said Deputy Calleary.
“This plan is particularly weak on SME support and entrepreneurship. Simply claiming that start-ups and SMEs now have much greater access to credit does not make it true. The reality is that banks remain in the driving seat at the expense of SMEs. The Government’s previous targets on bank lending to SMEs have made little difference to thousands of viable small businesses throughout the country that have been forced to lay off staff or shut their doors because they cannot get the support they need.
“The Government has been clever with juggling figures in an effort to downplay the extent of the ongoing jobs crisis. The 86,162 people in job activation programmes are not reflected in the Live Register figures. That’s nearly 3,000 more people than last year. These people remain unemployed but they are not recorded in the official figures.
“The Quarterly National Household Survey further emphasises the worrying trend of a two-tier recovery in this country. There is an alarming disparity between the drop in unemployment in Dublin and in other regions, particularly the South East. The lack of focus on regional development is reflected right across this Government’s Departments. There’s a strong sense that rural services have been under attack, with the more rural regions facing a disproportionate level of cuts to local garda resources, local schools, health services, public amenities and transport funding. Areas like the North West have also seen a significant reduction in focus on job creation.
“We need a much more balanced regional approach to job creation in this country. The promise to target more IDA investment outside the main cities is welcome, but it follows two years where many counties suffered a dramatic reduction in IDA visits. Today’s plan must signal a radical change in policy and not just an exercise in window-dressing ahead of the Fine Gael Ard Fheis and May’s local elections.”